Monday, 19 May 2014


DarkNL, an event now recognized as the low point of utility mismanagement by Nalcor, finally gave comeuppance to Ed Martin, the Corporation’s master of spin. 

The PUB Report did not mince words.  Indeed, in tone and text it constituted an indictment of the Province’s energy provider.  Using over 60 pages, the independent Agency detailed a litany of failures in basic Hydro planning and equipment maintenance.  

As if anyone needs reminding, DarkNL saw virtually the entire Island without heat and light; almost all suffered rotating black-outs over an extended period. The concept of warming centers entered local lexicon.

Nalcor’s Ed Martin quickly plucked a forthright Hydro V-P Rob Henderson away from reporters.

Martin had scripted a different narrative; one more self-serving.  His tale of woe spoke to historically high power demand, excessively cold weather and old machinery. 

The feeding frenzy by all the media, for listener audience, gave little attention to facts; with the Report's release the media now owed the public the truth.

While the PUB Report offered that opportunity, reporters didn’t seem to know Nalcor had gotten another one over them.  The Report contradicted Ed Martin's assertions in their entirety. Somehow, it just didn't seem to matter.  

The PUB’s conclusions were prefaced in the blunt language of certainty.  Not just once, but five times, it contained these exhortations of Hydro’s management incompetence: “Hydro’s failure…..Hydro’s failure….Hydro’s failure…Hydro’s failure….Hydro’s failure….”  Five times the PUB condemned Nalcor's performance having failed in its duty of care as a utility provider.  In their totality, the PUB’s description of the failures substantially covered Hydro’s entire operation.

That is not all.

Nalcor was even found to be incapable of running two generators intended to keep the lights on at its own Headquarters.  Its energy management systems were rendered inoperable for 43 minutes though, thankfully, they were ‘securely' inoperable.  A bullet-proof glass protects the Center in case the rabble get angry. 

Little wonder that the PUB imposed upon Hydro a set of specific dates during which it must report compliance with its maintenance orders.  

For these reasons, one might think a Report chronicling the precise factors leading to DarkNL would be treated seriously by a media so fiercely gripped with the event as it unfolded. 

One might think, too, that the public deserved a thorough and studied appraisal of the Report.  A reminder of Nalcor’s disinformation campaign and the PUB’s factual rebuttal would have been a bonus.    

But the public got the minimum. 

Anticipation of the Report seemed to put the Telegram out of sorts.  A day earlier, the Paper was distraught that the PUB was late with its filing. The delay, it turns out, was one day’s duration! Its fit of pique seemed inconsistent with its subsequent tempered reportage.

Even VOCM, brazen enough to engage temporary “guest” Open Line Host Tim Powers, a paid Nalcor Consultant, to keep the public in touch with busy Nalcor leadership ‘ad nauseum’; yet the media outlet lacked any of the same verve when the PUB Report appeared. 

While all the media reports lacked analysis, proportionality or even clarity as to who was responsible last January, it is hard to say that any performed as poorly as the public broadcaster.  Yes, the CBC covered the issue.  But the editor might have preferred that the issue stayed on the cutting room floor.

At 5:30 PM this scribe waited as ‘Here and Now’ raced to the lowest common denominator of what is nominally called the news.  I waited…..and waited…..

This is what made the CBC “Here and Now” Friday, May 16 at 5:30 PM:

* Kenny Green sentencing for Joey Whalen death

* Accident on the TCH

* Changes to the temporary foreign program

* Bail for Brandon Tobin in beating of man with a bat

* Notorious fraudster sentenced in Windsor

* The weather forecast with Collette Kennedy

* Project for pregnant ducks

* RNC recognizes 11 citizens

* Weather update

* NDP Convention – Big Weekend

* Brazil Soccer World Cup

* Swearing can make you stronger

* Car runs into ATM Machine

* Car takes off without Driver

Here and Now 6:00 PM
Kenny Green story

Temporary foreign workers program

Report of PUB into causes of DarkNL….finally!!!!!!!

I am not sure on what basis sentencing for a scum bag should have priority over an indictment of a Utility whose inaction placed at great risk the lives, safety and the economy of thousands of people. But, the word ‘indifference’ has surely been elevated.

Should we not ask why the media is incapable of demanding an explanation of Ed Martin or of the Premier who keeps him around? 

Why is it that the same leadership is charged with building Muskrat Falls and with the expenditure of billions of dollars; yet, the media is unable to express concern that such ineptitude may be transferable?

Ed Martin can be allowed to deliver gibberish to reporters about cold weather, high power demand and worn out machinery; but when proven that none of these matters were attributable to the unforgivable events of last January, he is allowed to avoid an explanation for neglect.

No one should think NTV, or any other media, powerhouses of serious journalism. 

But, even if its Report was far too inadequate, given the gravity of the PUB's findings, the Report into DarkNL did run top of the NTV News at 5:30 PM.  Even if it matches the CBC in the quality of tripe it airs, at least it knows the difference between what is important and what is fluff.

Our media have far to go.


  1. Des, sorry to say the facts don't fully support the PUB finding, that generation and transmission issues were the original cause of both the 2013 and 2014 outages. For 2013 it was electrical faults caused by salt contamination, a weather issue. Liberty and the PUB missed that, although it is documented many times in the Nfld Hydro analysis. The facts are in the good work of some of Hydro's engineers (found mostly in the Appendix). My letter to the PUB on this is not yet posted, but is on the Vision 2041 website under News section. I suggest you read it. And this cause has significance as to reliability of the Muskrat Falls transmission line, so I am not surprised that Nalcor would not bring attention to that. Winston Adams

  2. The media have lost interest and so has the public. Why should we worry about DarkNL 2015, when it is currently a balmy 12 degrees outside!. Martin knew this... memories are short. However his true day of reckoning will be in 2018 when MF and the bills finally start to happen. Power rates will double... and people will be reminded each and every month.

  3. I agree with the previous comment. Ed Martin has this figured out all to well. When Rob Henderson was forthright in his statement regarding DarkNL, he was yanked away from the media. The media presentation that followed with Kathy Dunderdale and Ed Martin was an insult to us all. Fortunately she's gone, however, for some strange reason Martin has survived. While many have forgotten, others will never forget. People were injured, one unfortunate person died from carbon monoxide poising and many suffered frozen pipes and water damage. While our then premier tried to make light of the whole event, we know where that got her in the end.

    A change in the leadership at Nalcor is long over due. If this were a private enterprise, Ed Martin would be long gone. Perhaps it will take a change in government, before we see a shakeup at Nalcor, so I hope Dwight Ball is following your blog and will be keen to try and address some of the gross mismanagement at Nalcor.

  4. If memories are that short, we all deserve to be in the dark again. Almost 200,000 customers lost power for long periods in the coldest of winter. The PUB calls for investigation and less than a dozen Nflders show up to complain. The Initial PUB report is a non event, camping on the 24 th is more important. The PUB is to have hearings around the province ẁhere interest warrants`. I guess there will be few hearings. We are on track to double our power costs, and when that happens we will rant and roar. My oh my oh my.

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